Thursday, August 6, 2009

In the Boonies

Sorry - we have not had internet access the last two nights. Let me catch you up very quickly.

Tuesday: Woke up and visited a friend's home. The house had 240 rooms, including 99 bedrooms and 43 bathrooms. It sat on some 8000 acres in Asheville, North Carolina and sported a beautiful view of the mountains. All the furnishings were original from 100+ years ago. Amazing. You may have guessed the house does not belong to a friend of ours, but to george Vanderbilt. It's the biggest private residence in the US, and was a neat place to see. It's hard to believe people lived like this.

Later, we finished our driving for the day in Natural Bridge, VA. This is the site of an unusual geological formation that forms a huge bridge taller than Niagara Falls and weighs an estimated 72 million pounds in granite. They figure it took millions of years to form through erosion. George Washington first surveyed it when he was 18. Word about it got out, and Thomas Jefferson thought it so impressive that he bought it in a land grant from the King. In colonial times, it was considered one of the top natural wonders of the New World. Now, it's a tourist trap, but since I read a biography on Washington and Jefferson, and both books mentioned it, I really wanted to see it.

Wednesday: Visited Monticello and reconfirmed the brilliance of Thomas Jefferson in his day. Although the house seemed plain compared to our Biltmore visit the day before, it was still great to walk in the steps of such a visionary man. After Monticello, we stopped in to see the University of Virginia, which Jefferson founded. It's a very nice campus! Then we drove Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Forest. We were fortunate to come across a black bear cub on the drive! We all loved that so much. We ended our drive in Luray, VA at the Brookside Cabins. After our night in the Natural Bridge Inn, which was once an historic and fabled hotel but has since gone into some disrepair, I was a little nervous about my reservation at the cabins. But when we arrived, I was relieved to find a really quaint, clean cabin with 2 bedrooms (privacy, at last!). What a wonderful place to spend our final night away from home.

Thursday: Our horseback trail-riding was derailed by heavy rain, so we headed home early. When we arrived, we were greeted by two very, very happy dogs! Please come back and read our final blog; we will each summarize our travels in our own unique perspectives!

Cheers, Kevin

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